We had sailed on Pacific Jewel in 2012 on its New Zealand run and thoroughly enjoyed the experience (even though we were plagued by mechanical problems which saw 2 highlight stop overs cancelled) while the staff from the cabin steward to wait staff were excellent that could not be said for other aspects of the cruise.
We had booked to experience Christmas at sea- something special. While there were some highlights- gorgeous Christmas decorations, staff choir and carols there were areas that failed to deliver the wow factor. As other reviewers who are familiar with Jewel have stated cost cutting is certainly evident. On our previous cruise you could get a hamburger and chips for lunch from the grill located at the entrance to the Plantation buffet free of charge- not anymore. I was also shocked to see that to order breakfast to the cabin to have on your balcony also attracted quite a hefty charge- we had done this on a previous Royal Caribbean Cruise line and it was delivered free of any charge- P&O lift your game.
The buffet food in the Plantation was below par in both quality and choice- and by the way why the change to very small glasses for fruit juice in the morning?? I think our local RSL has a better buffet. Again cost cutting was evident- no egg section where the chef cooks your eggs to order for breakfast as is the case on other cruise ships and was available on the Jewel before- scrambled eggs or fried eggs stewing in the bain-marie - pass the cereal please!
Food was reasonably better in the main dining room- though again the cost cutters have been at it with both breakfast and lunch menus fixed, gone the ability to choose and build the breakfast of your choice, I had to resort to ordering Eggs Benedict but hold the sauce to get poached eggs. The photographs are terribly overpriced and a blatant rip off- what for $10 more you will load a digital copy onto a USB stick!!?? You have to be joking- it must have been an interesting meeting by the bean counters to think that one up. While the prices of cocktails may be viewed as reasonable the price of bottled wine was ridiculous and quality of the wine by the glass wasn't anything to write home about.
The ports we visited- Vila, Isle of Pines, Lifou, Mystery Island and Noumea were all wonderful- we only booked tours for Vila and Noumea otherwise we booked local tours when we arrived.
Overall the Pacific Jewel isn't what she used to be and I fail to see how P&O are offering anything remotely like value for money but I can see how anyone who has not been on a cruise before might think it was the bees knees.
Our dining companions who also had cruised P&O before and experienced something much better than Jewel currently offers agreed P&O must now stand for pretty ordinary. Would we cruise the pacific again- sure. Would we book on P&O definitely not